January 30, 2024 | BBC Radio 4

Violent anti-immigrant riots in Dublin in November, fuelled by misinformation, hate and extremism

ISD Senior Analyst Ciarán O’Connor contributed to a BBC Radio 4 programme about the 23 November riots that erupted in Dublin following the stabbing of three children outside of a school plus a school caretaker. Ciarán spoke about the role online misinformation, hate and extremism played in fuelling the violent events of that night.

In the programme, Ciarán explained how rumours that the attacker was an immigrant of Algerian descent began to spread on social media 30 minutes after the stabbing incident occurred, even before the Garda (the national police) or the media made any announcements about it. “It was kind of a rumour mill that was starting to emerge online.”

Anti-immigration protests took over the streets of Dublin, organised and promoted by far-right agitators. A night of riots then followed, where shops were looted, vehicles set alight and police attacked.

Ciarán provided examples of posts he uncovered on Telegram that called for mobilisation and included dehumanising language towards immigrants calling them “animals” and incitement of violence with posts that read “buildings will burn” or “it is time to get the petrol bombs.”

He then explained how although these messages were initially shared on private Telegram channels, they soon spread across other platforms, particularly X.

Ciarán is the co-author of Uisce Faoi Thalamh, a 3-part report series published days before the rioting which examines the online ecosystem where mis- and disinformation thrives in Ireland, including regarding immigration.

The programme is available on BBC’s website. Ciarán’s interview begins at 09.04.